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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

For Immediate Release
Monday, September 26, 2016
Contact:Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115

State Releases 2016 Assessment and Accountability Results

Results Include both MCAS and PARCC Tests from Spring 2016

MALDEN - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today released 2016 MCAS and PARCC results and school and district accountability and assistance levels. The Department also commended 49 schools for high achievement, making strong progress and/or narrowing proficiency gaps.

Also today, the state announced that the following three schools previously designated as "underperforming," or Level 4, will exit that status as a result of meeting their turnaround goals: Bentley Academy Horace Mann Charter School in Salem, which serves kindergarten through fifth grade; Spark Academy in Lawrence, which serves grades 6-8; and William N. DeBerry Elementary School in Springfield.

Notable in today's results is the fact that the Bellingham, Dighton-Rehoboth, Gateway Regional (serving the towns of Blandford, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery and Russell), Medford and Oxford have joined the ranks of districts in which all schools are Level 1 or 2.

"I am pleased to recognize these schools and districts for their hard work over several years," said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell D. Chester. "This year's accountability and assessment results are a testament to the Commonwealth's drive to improve an already strong statewide public education system. As we build the next-generation MCAS that all students in grades 3-8 will take next spring, I'd like to thank in particular the educators from across the Commonwealth who are working with us to ensure we have a high-quality assessment system for many years to come."

The Commendation schools announced today include three Massachusetts public schools that the U.S. Department of Education is considering for designation as 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Blue Ribbon Schools are recognized in two categories: closing gaps and exemplary high performance. This year, Morris Elementary School in Lenox and Merrymount Elementary School in Quincy are under consideration for closing gaps, and Daniel Butler Elementary School in Belmont is under consideration for high performance.

Accountability designations

Under the state accountability system, ESE uses statewide test scores over time, student growth percentiles, annual dropout rates, graduation rates and participation rates to classify schools into Levels 1-5 as follows:

  • Level 1: Meeting gap narrowing goals
  • Level 2: Not meeting gap narrowing goals or less than 95 percent participation rate on statewide assessments
  • Level 3: Among lowest performing 20 percent of schools or subgroups or less than 90 percent participation on statewide assessments or persistently low graduation rates
  • Level 4: Among lowest achieving and least improving schools
  • Level 5: Chronically underperforming schools

Following precedent established last year, any district that administered PARCC to grades 3-8 in spring 2016 was held harmless from any negative changes PARCC scores might have caused in the district's 2016 school and district accountability and assistance levels. Level 4 schools and districts taking PARCC may be placed in Level 5 (state receivership) based on other performance indicators besides PARCC. The hold-harmless provision does not apply to high schools that serve only grades 9-12, because they have continued to use MCAS.

Although districts that chose to administer PARCC in grades 3-8 in spring 2016 were held harmless on the basis of scores, their accountability level could still change as a the result of low (less than 95 percent) participation rates.

With respect to previously named Level 4 schools, two – Mattahunt Elementary in Boston and Springfield's High School of Commerce – are under closer review because Commissioner Chester is concerned about the pace of improvement and will be looking for concrete plans that address those concerns.

The state's accountability system identifies the state's most persistently low-performing schools and districts and helps accelerate student achievement. That system has already shown results, and it will be used to support the turnaround of three schools newly identified as Level 4: Brighton High School and Excel High School in Boston and the Mary Fonseca Elementary School in Fall River.

Since 2010, the state has designated 64 schools Level 4, a status that lasts at least three years. Of those 64, 61 remain open, and of those, 40 have been eligible to exit. More than 60 percent of Level 4 schools that have been eligible to exit that status since 2010 have now done so, including the three that will exit this year after assuring the state that there are measures in place to continue their improvement.

For more information about accountability and assistance level designations, visit Accountability Reports.

Assessment Results

In spring 2016, as Massachusetts prepared to build the next-generation MCAS, districts were given the option of administering either PARCC or MCAS assessments in English language arts and mathematics to students in grades 3-8. Approximately 72 percent of students in grades 3-8 took PARCC, while 28 percent took MCAS. Unlike in 2015, when the percentage of districts choosing MCAS and those choosing PARCC was roughly even in terms of demographics, this year's assessment choices were distributed in such a way that it is difficult for ESE to create a valid representative sample to serve as a basis for comparing statewide results. As a result, ESE is not reporting aggregate statewide results for grades 3-8 in English language arts and math in 2016. The Department will return to reporting statewide results in 2017, when all students in grades 3-8 will take the next-generation MCAS in English language arts and mathematics.

The Department is able to report statewide results for the grade 10 English language arts and mathematics tests as well as the science and technology/engineering tests at grades 5, 8 and in high school, because those tests were given statewide. The percent of students scoring Proficient or higher on the 10th grade MCAS remained at 91 percent in English language arts, the same as last year; fell one point in math to 78 percent; and rose one point in science and technology/engineering to 73 percent. In grade 5, the percent of students scoring Proficient or higher on science and technology/engineering fell 4 points to 47 percent, and in grade 8, it fell one point to 41 percent.

In 10th grade English language arts and mathematics, the gaps between the percent of African-American/black students and white students and Hispanic/Latino students and white students who scored Proficient or above both narrowed between 2007 and 2016. (The baseline year for the full testing program is 2007.) Compared to 2015, in 10th grade English language arts, the gaps between African-American/black students and white students and Hispanic/Latino students and white students narrowed by one point. In 10th grade math, the 2016 results showed the gaps between African-American/black students and white students grew by two percentage points since 2015, and the gap between Hispanic/Latino students and white students remained the same.

Across the state, 108 PARCC districts had 80 percent or more of their students score in the Meeting Expectations range in English language arts, and 71 districts did so in math. Among urban districts, Cambridge stood out for having the highest percentage of students in grades 3-8 score in the Meeting Expectations range in English language arts (66 percent), and Leominster had the highest percentage among urban districts score in the Meeting Expectations range in math (58 percent).

Districts that chose PARCC had the option to administer the test in a computer-based format or paper and pencil version. Approximately 44 percent of Massachusetts PARCC districts used the computer-based format, 39 percent used paper, and 17 percent used a mix of computer-based and paper.

School- and district-level student assessment results are available on ESE's website in several ways. For district or school data, either go to a school or district profile in Profiles and click on the "Assessment" tab or go to "PARCC Achievement Results" or "MCAS Achievement Results," both of which bring up statewide data for individual grades and subjects. Statewide results for 10th grade MCAS and fifth and eighth grade science tests are available here: 2016 MCAS Results by Subgroup by Grade and Subject - Massachusetts.

Regardless of whether students took PARCC or MCAS, parents should receive their students' scores from their district by mid-October.

For more information on the next-generation MCAS, visit Next-Gen MCAS webpage.

Download MS EXCEL Document
2016 Commendation Schools

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Last Updated: September 26, 2016
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